1.    09 Jan 2016 #1

    NAS or Headless Linux box for multimedia server etc


    Hi there

    I know loads of people here use NAS boxes one way or another.
    I'm torn between getting a standard NAS box or using a home build Linux headless server for similar --using Linux LVM makes creating Logical data spaces out of multiple physical HDD's a doddle.

    NAS advantage - purpose built - ready to go from the Off.

    Disadvantage -- proprietary file systems and OS (QNAP for instance) -- difficult to add applications and support for Wireless (Wifi) usually problematic as well as one-off operations such as copying files to the NAS from external USB's.
    Difficult to maintain / upgrade --for example if you start with a two HDD system adding more HDD's is difficult unless you initially bought a NAS with more bays.

    Linux advantage --Free easily fixeable and maintainable OS where Networking WORKS, can add as many volumes as I like, can add applications such as PLEX for multi-media serving, VMware / VBOX / ZEN / KVM so I could have a Windows VM also running on it, easy to control via remote access.

    Disadvantage -- Have to self build -- means messing around with cases, power supplies etc -- probably hard to get a decent system into a very small box.

    I have plenty of Linux experience --would probably use CENTOS for the server as it's really robust (is the open source of Reds Hat's very successful enterprise server used on zillions of server farms etc) but zero experience in the use / maintenance and operation of NAS type boxes.

    Any guidance here over whether I should go NAS or Linux. I've enough decent pieces of hardware over apart from a mobo and small case to create a Linux system, but I'd have to buy a purpose built NAS - I've got enough HDD's though for 4 bays.

    Cheers
    jimbo
      My ComputerSystem Spec
  2.    09 Jan 2016 #2
    Join Date : Dec 2015
    Posts : 6,375
    Windows10

    Are you really going to get a great answer on a windows 10 forum. I would have thought going to a more dedicated Linux forum would be better?

    Out of interest, I use a rasberry pi 2 with plex as a media server. A bit choppy when transcoding but works great on hd mp4 files that do not need transcoding.

    I would be inclined to use a NAS as a file server and a Linux device as a media server (Plex is good), and not really crossmatch (personal preference).
      My ComputerSystem Spec
  3.    09 Jan 2016 #3
    Join Date : Aug 2015
    Posts : 369
    Windows 10 Pro

    My headless NAS/Media Server (DLNA served by Serviio)/Backup Server/Torrent Client began its life under Windows 8 and then got upgraded to Windows 10. I use Remote Desktop to manage the server.

    Backup storage is mirrored through Windows mirroring features. Currently 6 HDDs for data and 1 SSD for system.

    I prefer non-transcoding media playback though, I.e. I'm not interested in Plex-based solutions, but rather prefer playback devices that can handle various formats natively. If Linux offers any advantages in transcoding efficiency, then it is a different story.
      My ComputerSystem Spec
  4.    09 Jan 2016 #4
    Join Date : Aug 2015
    Posts : 138
    Microsoft Windows 10 Pro 64-bit BETA

    I think you should go for the Linux thingy. You're not done with experimenting and playing around yet. Just go ahead
    You can get a NAS when you are old, sorry, not so curious, and just want things to work for you.
    Oh shit, then you have to by a Mac ...
      My ComputerSystem Spec
  5.    09 Jan 2016 #5

    Hi there.

    PLEX etc doesn't require transcoding - only if you mess around with some format of subtitles transcoding might be required. PLEX is free and casts to chromecast without problems -- Mezzmo hangs occasionally and serviio seems to have gone off the development cycle lately --in addition both cost money whereas PLEX is free. Mezzmo also only works on Windows so it won't be available on a NAS box or a Linux system.

    Some NAS boxes have a media server but it's moot whether it plays all formats I have including the latest H265 / HEVC which is very good if you have a 4K monitor / TV somewhere and don't want HUGE files streaming on your network !!. PLEX handles X265 / HEVC and FLAC at a decent bit rate provided your target (remote) boxes / devices can handle it.

    My streaming is all done from my own media --not interested in Internet streaming (Netflix / Spotify etc).

    I think I'll start with the Linux idea and then possibly look at a NAS box later if I need to have a small box near my ISP cable inlet (can connect directly to the built in router so Wifi from the NAS isn't important any more -- the cable router has a built in Wifi transmitter).

    Actually I've nothing against Macs --just that they used to be super expensive and you couldn't really tinker with them -- I've always liked the incredible video resolution on them -- even on a smallish screen the resolution is superb -- most laptops even now only have 768 X 1366 even on 17 inch "clunkers". That's a no no in my book these days --even my phone can do a bit better. !!!! and you CAN most certainly see the difference - even on a small 5.5 inch screen !!!!

    @cereberus -- No probs with the Windows Forums -- I know masses and masses of people here have NAS boxes -- just getting some feedback from users --there's loads of users here who have been on the Forums for a long time (even still on the W7 ones) so I trust and respect their replies.

    Thanks for the replies

    Cheers
    jimbo
      My ComputerSystem Spec
  6.    09 Jan 2016 #6
    Join Date : Jul 2015
    Land of Enchantment
    Posts : 169
    Win 10 Rel 1607

    Run a FreeNAS box myself, learning curve there is a bit stiff but easily doable. Have 12TB total disk space on a ZFS storage pool. leaving about 9TB of writable space.

    I really like it. I built using a mini ITX motherboard housed in an mini ITX Lian Li case and a Silverstone 450 SFF power supply. My mobo sports an i5 CPU which is overkill and 16GB ram, wish I could add more.

    Here is a great blog post on a SFF FreeNAS server which you could use as a model for your build. Lots of good info here:

    DIY NAS: 2015 Edition - Brian's Blog
      My ComputerSystem Spec
  7.    09 Jan 2016 #7
    Join Date : Nov 2013
    Toronto
    Posts : 4,660
    Win 10 Pro x64

    Quote Originally Posted by jimbo45 View Post

    Disadvantage -- proprietary file systems and OS (QNAP for instance) -- difficult to add applications and support for Wireless (Wifi) usually problematic as well as one-off operations such as copying files to the NAS from external USB's.
    Difficult to maintain / upgrade --for example if you start with a two HDD system adding more HDD's is difficult unless you initially bought a NAS with more bays.
    Hey @jimbo45 ,

    I don't know where you got the idea about those disadvantages you mentioned above regarding the Qnap NAS. I have a 3-year old low end 2-bay Qnap TS-220 NAS (setup in RAID) with two USB 3.0 ports and two SATA ports in the back and one USB 2.0 port in front (for copying files off a flashdrive). It has the sweetest interface (I usually use the web browser interface but you can install a desktop app) and have all the proprietary (and 3rd party) apps that you need. I don't know why you need a wireless connectivity for the NAS box but it is not highly recommended. It's a server. Just let it sit beside a router (like I did on the pic below) and connect it to your home network with an ethernet cable. It's important for a NAS box to have a stable internet connection that only a wired connection can give.

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	WP_20150819_18_58_31_Pro.jpg 
Views:	4 
Size:	190.0 KB 
ID:	57918


    You can open up the GUI wherever you are as long as you have access to a computer/tablet and internet.

    Log-in screen:

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	2016_01_09_20_23_431.png 
Views:	3 
Size:	1.77 MB 
ID:	57926


    The GUI via web browser after logging-in.

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	2016_01_09_19_47_511.png 
Views:	5 
Size:	1.94 MB 
ID:	57906

    As you can see from a screen capture below, you can easily add external drives via the USB 3.0 and SATA ports in the back that you can easily access from the web anywhere in the world. Even the USB flashdrive that I plugged in at the USB 2.0 port in front. Right now I have two 2TB Seagate External backup drives attached. I still have two SATA ports that I can use to add more drives but I don't need them right now.

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	2016_01_09_19_51_422.png 
Views:	19 
Size:	271.6 KB 
ID:	57907

    Copying files from external drives or USB flashdrive is a no-brainer using the File Station App...

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	2016_01_09_19_57_393.png 
Views:	4 
Size:	1.42 MB 
ID:	57909

    Or just drag-and-drop it from File Explorer on desktop..

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	2016_01_09_20_21_461.jpg 
Views:	4 
Size:	286.9 KB 
ID:	57924


    I can access everything from my Windows Phone or Android Phone using the QFile App. Downloading any files from the NAS to my mobile device is very easy, too.

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	wp_ss_20160109_0001.png 
Views:	4 
Size:	156.8 KB 
ID:	57912


    And transferring files from my mobile device to any hard drive on the NAS (internal or external) can easily be done with the 3rd party ShareFolder Explorer App.

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	wp_ss_20160109_0002.png 
Views:	3 
Size:	257.1 KB 
ID:	57914

    And managing the NAS remotely can also be done with a QManager App.

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	wp_ss_20160109_0003.png 
Views:	3 
Size:	250.1 KB 
ID:	57915

    There's video and music app too, but I don't need them. I just play media files directly from the built-in player of the QFile App.
    That's it... Qnap NAS is ready to use out of the box and has every app you need to use it with a desktop or mobile devices.

    You can also download torrents directly from the Qnap desktop and close the app and let it download in the background using the Download Station app.
    Last edited by badrobot; 09 Jan 2016 at 18:52.
      My ComputerSystem Spec
  8.    10 Jan 2016 #8

    Quote Originally Posted by badrobot View Post
    Hey @jimbo45 ,

    I don't know where you got the idea about those disadvantages you mentioned above regarding the Qnap NAS. I have a 3-year old low end 2-bay Qnap TS-220 NAS (setup in RAID) with two USB 3.0 ports and two SATA ports in the back and one USB 2.0 port in front (for copying files off a flashdrive). It has the sweetest interface (I usually use the web browser interface but you can install a desktop app) and have all the proprietary (and 3rd party) apps that you need. I don't know why you need a wireless connectivity for the NAS box but it is not highly recommended. It's a server. Just let it sit beside a router (like I did on the pic below) and connect it to your home network with an ethernet cable. It's important for a NAS box to have a stable internet connection that only a wired connection can give.

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	WP_20150819_18_58_31_Pro.jpg 
Views:	4 
Size:	190.0 KB 
ID:	57918


    You can open up the GUI wherever you are as long as you have access to a computer/tablet and internet.

    Log-in screen:

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	2016_01_09_20_23_431.png 
Views:	3 
Size:	1.77 MB 
ID:	57926


    The GUI via web browser after logging-in.

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	2016_01_09_19_47_511.png 
Views:	5 
Size:	1.94 MB 
ID:	57906

    As you can see from a screen capture below, you can easily add external drives via the USB 3.0 and SATA ports in the back that you can easily access from the web anywhere in the world. Even the USB flashdrive that I plugged in at the USB 2.0 port in front. Right now I have two 2TB Seagate External backup drives attached. I still have two SATA ports that I can use to add more drives but I don't need them right now.

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	2016_01_09_19_51_422.png 
Views:	19 
Size:	271.6 KB 
ID:	57907

    Copying files from external drives or USB flashdrive is a no-brainer using the File Station App...

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	2016_01_09_19_57_393.png 
Views:	4 
Size:	1.42 MB 
ID:	57909

    Or just drag-and-drop it from File Explorer on desktop..

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	2016_01_09_20_21_461.jpg 
Views:	4 
Size:	286.9 KB 
ID:	57924


    I can access everything from my Windows Phone or Android Phone using the QFile App. Downloading any files from the NAS to my mobile device is very easy, too.

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	wp_ss_20160109_0001.png 
Views:	4 
Size:	156.8 KB 
ID:	57912


    And transferring files from my mobile device to any hard drive on the NAS (internal or external) can easily be done with the 3rd party ShareFolder Explorer App.

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	wp_ss_20160109_0002.png 
Views:	3 
Size:	257.1 KB 
ID:	57914

    And managing the NAS remotely can also be done with a QManager App.

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	wp_ss_20160109_0003.png 
Views:	3 
Size:	250.1 KB 
ID:	57915

    There's video and music app too, but I don't need them. I just play media files directly from the built-in player of the QFile App.
    That's it... Qnap NAS is ready to use out of the box and has every app you need to use it with a desktop or mobile devices.

    You can also download torrents directly from the Qnap desktop and close the app and let it download in the background using the Download Station app.
    Hi there

    Thanks for the useful info - I know nothing about NAS so I'm greatful for this type of info which you can't nget easily by googling.
    NAS certainly looks OK - my main issue was being able to add some apps which you've explained can be done easily enough -- I agree though Wired connection is better - my ISP router box has provision for 4 wired connections so that should be fine -- and I can access the NAS via the Wifi connection from remote computers as the ISP router box also has a built in fast wifi access point.

    Cheers
    jimbo
      My ComputerSystem Spec

 


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